How to make a professional negligence claim: A Guide for Businesses

Every year, businesses across the country appoint professionals to provide specific services to assist the company. Such services could range from engaging a builder to provide decorating services for your offices, to an ongoing relationship with an accountant for financial advice and guidance.

While many of these partnerships will go well, there is always a risk of receiving poor commercial advice or shoddy services. For businesses who feel that they have been badly advised by the professional that they instructed or the advice resulted in a detriment to the business, a professional negligence claim can be made.

In this guide we outline what constitutes professional negligence and how to go about making a professional negligence claim

Click on the link to that section:

The definition of professional negligence and when businesses may be able to make a claim.

Learn against whom a claim can be made.

How to determine your approach depending on whether the issue is a breach of contract or tort

Making a professional negligence claim.

How our lawyers can assist in making a professional negligence claim.

What is professional negligence?

Professional negligence is the failure of a third-party professional advisor who has been commissioned to undertake a particular assignment, usually under a contractual agreement or set out by common law. and they have failed to act with the duty of care that is reasonably expected of a professional within their sector. Professionals must conduct themselves and provide services to high standards, often defined by their regulatory body and to a level of competence that is held by others in the same profession to be acceptable. If a professional fails to complete their duties or meet the expected standard, they could be deemed to be professionally negligence.

Against whom should a business make a professional negligence claim?

Professional negligence claims can be made against any professional who purports to have expertise and/or skill in a particular service and is contractually bound to provide your business with services to an appropriate standard of care that is reasonably expected and subsequently fails to do so.

Professional negligence claims are often but not exclusively, made against:

  • Legal professionals
  • Financial professionals, such as mortgage brokers, investment brokers or insurance professionals.
  • Accountants, financial advisors and financial analysts.
  • Surveyors

The difference between contract and tort

When making a professional negligence compensation claim, it is important to be sure whether the professional in question has breached the contract or whether tort applies.

A breach of contract means that the obligations agreed between the parties and set out in the contract have not been performed to the standard defined in the contract.

Tort is a civil wrong in common law that causes loss or harm to the complainant and results in legal liability placed on the individual who fails to carry out a service to an acceptable standard and commits a tortious act. The claimant is able to pursue a civil remedy for negligence through the courts which, if successful, can result in damages being paid to the complainant.

As with most contentious issues, the opportunity for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is available.

How to make a professional negligence claim

When faced with sub-standard professional services to ensure that you are compensated for the failure of service you must make a professional negligence claim. This need not be too challenging with the right guidance and advice on the strength of your case from commercial litigation lawyers.

The following steps are required when making a professional negligence claim:

Assemble relevant documents to support your claim

It is important to obtain all relevant documents required to reinforce your claim from the onset. Including the initial contract that was signed by the professional, reports you have commissioned outlining the financial or other damage arising from the third parties’ professional negligence, documents outlining expected duty of care and any other evidence that a breach of contract or tort has been made. A report outlining the quantum as well as actual evidence of damages and the causation of these damages.

Keep note of management costs

In order to receive full compensation for the damage that has occurred due to professional negligence, contemporaneous notes should be kept of any financial losses relating to managing the consequences of the negligence, making a claim and the cost of remedying the problems that have occurred.

Make a complaint

When you have gathered sufficient evidence to demonstrate that professional negligence has occurred, you can make your complaint. The first step to making your complaint is to seek an expert or specialist commercial litigation lawyer who will be able to guide you through the process of a professional negligence claim, who is able to assess the body of evidence you have amassed relating to your complaint.

Send letter of claim through your appointed law firm

A letter of claim can be issued and sent to the professional against whom you believe you have a claim. The professional will have three months in which to respond to your letter of claim with their reply.

Consider whether the matter can be resolved out of court

Some professional negligence cases will have to go through court proceedings, however, in some circumstances, it may be possible to manage your claim using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which provides an alternative method for resolving contentious disputes by negotiation between the parties in the presence of an impartial arbitrator or mediator, this can be a faster method of bringing resolution to the dispute.

Giambrone & Partners’ expert commercial litigation lawyers have represented commercial clients around the globe to ensure that disputes are settled as quickly as possible. Using ADR can minimize the disruption that a professional negligence dispute can cause.

Lawyer with clients in his office


If all avenues of ADR have proved to be unsuccessful, the matter will have to be settled through the court process. A professional negligence court case can be a long and drawn-out process but not in every case, it will depend on the merits of your claim and the nature of the defence.

If your matter does appear before a court it will most probably be heard in relatively recently launched Business and Property Courts (B&PCs) which became operational on 2nd October 2017. They provide a single “umbrella” for specialist civil jurisdictions across England and Wales. In London, these specialist civil jurisdictions operate together in the Rolls Building on Fetter Lane, forming the largest specialist centre for financial, business and property litigation in the world. There are other B&PC courts at other locations around England and Wales.

When all of the evidence has been presented a decision will be made and the judge will make the final order if your claim has been proved.

How Giambrone & Partners can help

At Giambrone & Partners, we provide our clients with an efficient and expert legal service to assist you in building your case for receiving the compensation you deserve in the most cost-effective manner. Our experienced litigation and dispute resolution lawyers will provide you with guidance and legal advice to help you achieve the desired outcome.

To find out more about how we could help you, contact our professional negligence team today.